Gynocriticism A Brief Note

Gynocriticism A Brief Note

Gynocriticism A Brief Note : A concept introduced by Elaine Showalter in Towards a Feminist Poetics gynocriticism refers to a kind of criticism with woman as writer/producer of textual meaning, as against woman as reader (feminist critique). Being concerned with the specificity of women’s writings (gynotexts) and women’s experiences, it focuses on female subjectivity, female language and female literary career, and attempts to construct a female framework for the analysis of literature.

Gynocriticism A Brief Note

Gynocritics are primarily engaged in identifying distinctly feminine subject matter (domesticity, gestation) in the literature written by women, uncovering the history of female literary tradition, depicting that there is a feminine mode of experience and subjectivity in thinking and perceiving the self and the world , and specifying traits of “woman’s language”, a distinctively feminine style of speech and writing.

Some of the Gynocriticism texts are-

  • Patricia Meyer Spacks‘The Female Imagination
  • Ellen Moers‘Literary Women
  • Elaine Showalter’s A Literature of their Own
  • Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic

Which elucidates the anxiety of authorship that arises from the notion that literary creativity is an exclusive male prerogative, and it is this anxiety that creates a counter figure for the idealised woman, the mad woman (modelled on Bertha Rochester in Jane Eyre). Gynocriticism was criticised for essentialism.

Write short note on Gynocriticism

 Gynocriticism is a late-twentieth century feminist reframing of literary criticism. It began in the 1970s, and its aims include focusing on literature as understood wholly from a woman’s perspective and discovering and reclaiming lost women’s writings. It challenged male constructions of the female, especially the female experience of sexuality, and particularly focused on debunking Freud’s theories about women.

Gynocriticism, sometimes leaning into Lacan, fought back against Freud’s definition of women as defined by the lack of a phallus. As Lacan pointed out, to define women this way was a logical fallacy: as women were never meant to have a phallus, it makes no sense to define them by this “lack” any more than it would be to define elephants as deficient for not having feathers. Gynocriticism thus pushes back on the male attempt to define a woman as a “lesser man” or to see her in terms of how she fulfills male desire.

Gynocriticism looked to women, such as writer Doris Lessing, to explain women’s experience of sexuality and sexual pleasure from a woman’s, not a man’s, point of view. Lessing can, for example, explain female orgasm in a way a man cannot because she has actually experienced it.

A good example of gynocriticism occurs in Judith Herman’s introduction to her classic work Trauma and Recovery. In it, she says we can only understand Freud’s mistake in repudiating women’s experience of childhood sexual abuse as fantasy by understanding it through his masculine anxiety: he, not women, is the one with the problem. If he had accepted the ubiquitousness of male family members abusing girls, he would have had to profoundly question the institution of the patriarchal family, something he was unwilling to do because of his own investment in patriarchal privilege.

Gynocritism righted a gap in the critical world by adding to it an assertively female perspective.

 Read it also :  Roland Barthes as a Cultural Theorist

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